fascinating; awkward, tender, and violent movement combined with snippets of dialog and swiftly built-up characters and relationships, creating social and sexual conflicts with an almost unnerving intimacy… utterly compelling.
BRETT FETZER, The Stranger (Seattle April 2004)
… extremely interesting. I highly recommend it.
ANNIE WAGNER, The Stranger (Seattle October 2004)
I left the theater shell-shocked. It was easily the oddest, most surprising performance experience I’ve ever had. And, against all expectations, one of the most rewarding.
BRENDAN KILEY, The Stranger (Seattle October 2005)
- PhD in Ecology (Human Ecology and Cultural Evolution) University of California, Davis 2016, MFA in Dramatic Arts UC Davis 2011, BA in Physics UC Berkeley 1992)
- Director: Body Research Physical Theater
- Ethnographic film-maker and postdoctoral researcher: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Department of Human Behavior, Ecology, and Culture
…has been practicing and performing contact improvisation and interdisciplinary, dance-based performance since the mid 80’s. In the last years, his work has been gravitating more and more towards directing experimental body-based theater. His physical work is influenced by release technique, his study of martial arts, and an intimate knowledge of physics (physics degree from UC Berkeley, 1992). Known internationally for his dynamic movement style and for the edge-pushing nature of his work, physically and psychologically, both in process and performance, his performances take the body and emotionally and physically felt experience as their reference points. His work has been showcased over the last 2 decades across 5 continents, both in established institutions/universities and in independent studios and theaters.
His work frequently crosses genre boundaries and challenges preconceptions and easy definition. His life represents an organic blending of performance, teaching, organization, creation, direction, and facilitation, comfortable in the realms of both theatrical and consciousness theory and the down to earth of building geodesic domes and organizing the feeding and coordination of large groups of creative artists.
Karl is particularly known for his work in the art of Contact Improvisation, where he has a reputation as a very clear, wide ranging, and richly informative teacher and as a physically articulate master of the practice, comfortable in both the small and subtle explorations and in the wild and explosive. Many students have profoundly evolved their practice of contact improvisation through his workshops, which provide a friendly, yet disciplined and down-to-earth atmosphere of study, growth, and pleasure in life. He is uncompromisingly devoted to the idea that one’s practice of contact should be one that actively promotes physical well-being. His approach to contact improvisation lives both in the realm of art and in that of contact as social practice.
His work fans out from this base in contact into the realms of dance, theater and personal exploration. His approach to performance is very process oriented and centers around the idea that the most profound performances come out of a process of investigation which is itself meaningful.
In 2011, Karl completed an MFA in Dramatic Arts at UC Davis. His MFA thesis work focused on interactive performance and arts-science fusion. It explored ways for forming knowledge, belief, and behavior and integrated forma behavioral experiments in the context of an experiential and interactive performance installation. In 2016, he completed the PhD in Ecology with an emphasis in human ecology and cultural evolution, also at UC Davis. His dissertation work explored the cultural evolution of ritual facilitated altruism, solidarity, and cooperation through formal behavioral experiments and mathematical models of cultural evolution. His parallel qualitative research and activist work in the context of the interlocking issues of First Nations sovereignty and environmental fights in northern British Columbia is being documented at www.weeatfish.org .
For winter and spring 2017, he was an Erasmus Mundus postdoctoral fellow at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, in the INstitut de Ciencia i Tecnologia Ambientals. He is currently an ethnographoc filmmaker and researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Department of Human Behavior, Ecology, and Culture.
Some of his past and continuing dance projects include
The Dancing Wilderness Project – since 1997, an ongoing exploration of the interrelationships amongst body-based creative process, wilderness experience, and how we choose to live our lives
Interactive Theater works, including Body of Knowledge (2011), Streams (2009), Proximity (2007) and his most performed work, Axolotl (2004) – a participatory performance in which the audience is blindfolded for 2 hours and invited to interact and explore with each other and a group of actors, dancers, and musicians investigating the nature of meaningful experience
The Sierra Contact Festival (annually since 2008) – a 5 day retreat and peer oriented gathering for experienced contact improvisors, focused on laboratory and presentation of research
The Marrowstone Island Winter Contact Improvisation Intensive – a 3 month, full time training program in contact improvisation and interdisciplinary performance work (theater, music, dance … practice and theory) integrated with rural communal living off the power grid on remote Marrowstone Island (2000, 2001, and 2003)
Contact Camp (2005-2007) at Burning Man – an international collaboration of contactors gathering to share their practice in the radical context of the week-long Burning Man festival
He is devoted to the idea that reclaiming the joy of being in the body is a necessary part of the revolution against materialism. His long term goals center around living in rural community in a mixture of simple living, farming, and creative exploration.